Online Vs Onsite TEFL For many ?Teaching English as a Foreign


For many 'Teaching English as a Foreign Language' has become the gateway to the world for newly qualified teachers. Certification can provide a new, exciting way forward towards achieving the goal of a fulfilling, challenging career, enveloped in the culture and language of a foreign country. Open to all native and near native speakers of English, without age restriction nor necessity for previous qualifications, the market for the teaching and provision of the qualification has become increasingly competitive, particularly with the expansion of the internet.

This essay examines on-line and on-site provision of the course, aiming to provide a balanced argument between the two.

Firstly, with PCs and computers in many homes, on-line TEFL is brought directly into the student's home making it widely accessible. As a result, the student need not worry about either the cost of travelling to the teaching venue, nor living a distance from the nearest college.

An on-line course can also be commenced at any date. Courses offered at on-site institutions are often more rigid with specific start dates and the prospective student may have to wait a period of time before embarking on their studies.

On-line courses can be completed in a shorter timescale than on-site courses. The student can also set the speed and pace in which they work. On-line courses also enable the student to fit in study alongside family and work commitments. This allows students to re- train whilst continuing their current employment providing vital income and financial security along the way. Whilst some on-line courses can be completed over weekend sessions and on a part-time basis, it may be impossible for some students to take four weeks off of work to attend a four week residential course. Similarly, leaving their current employ to do so may be a risk they are unwilling and financially unable to commit to without alternative financial support. For younger students still living at home however, this may be a more viable option.

Regardless of which course the student undertakes, a financial commitment of some kind is necessary. On-line courses range in cost from '200.00 for a 40 hour course to more intensive courses of 150 hours for approximately '420.00. For some this provides a cheaper and more manageable option than a residential course.

Residential courses with a basic certification on completion of a 20 hour face-to-face weekend course start at around '180.00. Longer on- site courses of four weeks duration and their part-time equivalents are available. However, they tend to be more expensive and limited in location.

A huge advantage of on-site courses over on-line courses is the focus given to teaching practise. These are often run by expert teachers who bring their knowledge and experience into the classroom. On-line courses have no input or opportunity for the student to develop or practise practical teaching skills or experience classroom dynamics with them at the helm. Their first time in the classroom therefore might be in front of their new class which some new teachers will find daunting and is not ideal. On-site courses therefore offer the better option where practical based skills are concerned. This also gives the potential teachers opportunity to practise and gain confidence in their abilities before they are launched into the classroom for real.

Whilst the on-line course provides students with a tutor contactable by email and telephone for help and advice, the on-site course has the advantage of a teacher to offer immediate assistance and feedback with a physical presence. Some students will relate to and benefit from this particularly the mature student who might have been away from study for some time.

In conclusion the variety and sheer volume of provision of the TEFL course is good thing. Which system the student chooses will depend on a number of factors including cost, available time, current work/family/life commitments, motivation levels and ultimately which format the student feels is more achievable in view of these factors. Whichever provider the student opts for, certification gives the prospective teacher a great footing from which to enter a new and exciting world of teaching English no matter which foreign country the graduate chooses.

Sources

How to Choose the right TEFT course by Suzanne Furster Guardian Unlimited, Friday 19th May 2006.

TEFL Courses- a guide to what's available. Guardian Unlimited, Monday 27th September 2004.

TEFL English teaching jobs and courses. www.seasonworkers.com

www.tefl.net

www.internationalenglish.co.uk

Guide to English Language Teaching: The Complete Guide to Finding Work and Developing Your Career by Simon Collins 2005.